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Chef Secrets: 11 Kitchen Essentials for Easy Cooking and Healthy Eating

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By Team Best Life

Some kitchen setups support weight loss efforts while others sabotage them. (The one pictured above looks like a good start to us!) Luckily it’s easy to make over a less-than-healthy cooking and baking space. If you have the right gadgets on your counters and fill your fridge and cabinets with the right foods your kitchen can be a weight loss haven, says Best Life chef Sidra Forman. Here are her 11 healthy kitchen essentials:

Must-Have Gadgets
1. A peeler
A good peeler opens up a whole world of fresh vegetables that might otherwise seem like a huge amount of labor to get through.

2. A salad spinner
Greens are low in calories and loaded with fiber, vitamins and phytonutrients, plant chemicals that protect against disease. A salad spinner makes it easier to incorporate them into your diet. Whether you’re cooking with them or creating a salad (like this tasty Peach Salad with Balsamic Dressing), you’ll want to start with clean and dry greens.

3. A roasting pan or heavy bottom skillet
Roasting is a cooking method that doesn’t require a ton of fat and brings out the flavors in all sorts of foods. If you do a lot of roasting, you’ll need a heavy bottom skillet. These allow you to cook over high heat—they distribute the heat nicely throughout the bottom of the pan—so food cooks properly without burning. A larger size pan is a good buy because you can use it for a lot of different foods.
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13 Yummiest Must-Eat Recipes of 2013

It’s time to get listicle, kids! It’s the end of the year and we’re gearing up for the barrage of end-of-year lists. We’re part of the problem, or maybe it’s the solution. Either way, we have no shame! We love a good year-end roundup. It makes for fun memory-making, a time to reconcile and take stock of the year. And in the case of this list in particular – eat the best stuff around.

In order from #1 to #13, we’re sharing the recipes that YOU ranked as most popular this year. Eat visit counted as a vote. Let this be your recipe guide for year-end celebrations and new year resolutions.

Healthy, fun, simple, indulgent, and satisfying – these are the must-eat recipes of 2013!

Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches - Mashed banana, flax seed and agave nectar keep these childhood treats moist and delicious, but still healthy.

Healthy Oatmeal Cookie Sandiches Recipe

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Waffles – Waffles should come out of an iron, not a box. This recipe doubles easily for holiday house guests.

Cinnamon Apple Oat Waffles


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Fat Fix: Getting Your Omega 3s Back in Balance

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

How’s your fat? Don’t worry—I’m not talking about your thighs or belly. I’m referring to the fat on your fork. You’ve heard about all the great things omega-3 fats can do for you, including boosting your mood, keeping your brain sharp and reducing your risk for heart disease. One reason for its stellar health creds: It fights chronic inflammation. But it can’t do its job if it’s outnumbered by its chief rival—omega-6 fats.omega 3

These two polyunsaturated fats compete for entry into your cells, and for most Americans, omega-6 is winning handily. Our bodies evolved to thrive off an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio anywhere from 1:1 to 4:1. Instead, the ratio is 16:1 or higher. That imbalance may literally be killing us.

Where does all the omega-6 come from? Soybean oil is a major source; processed and fast foods are rife with it, and it’s the oil in “vegetable oil” sold in the supermarket. Meanwhile, we eat very few omega-3 rich foods, like fatty fish, chia seeds and flaxseed.

Here’s how to get back in balance:
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How to Cook with Flaxseed

Flaxseed is one of my very favorite foods, and ironically enough, one of my husband’s least favorite foods. I think he’s afraid of its nutritional superpowers. But for me, it’s one of the few foods I can’t do without and even travel with as it keeps me well, regular.

With flaxseed’s tremendously high fiber content it keeps my body running like a well oil machine when I’m incorporating it into my diet along with other healthy foods and plenty of water.

What is flaxseed? It’s estimated that flaxseed, much like chia seeds, have been cultivated for thousands of years, originating in Babylon. They’re a tiny little seed that comes from the flaxseed plant, which when in full bloom produces a beautiful, bright purple flower. Flaxseed can be consumed as a whole seed, milled seed, or extracted oil.

Health benefits: First and foremost, flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which promotes healthy digestion. But they are also high in omega-3 fatty acids – or ‘good fats’ –  that contain phytoestrogens. These anti-inflammatory omega-3s have been shown to help boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clots, increase “good” HDL levels, lower triglyceride levels, and protect arteries from plaque buildup. Flaxseed also contains lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities, and also promote regular digestion and have been shown to help prevent breast cancer. 
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